An author blog can have many functions, but I would say for me it boils down to two:
1) a landing page for my writing endeavors so there’s something to see when a reader Googles me or my books
2) a way to build a tribe, a following, a fan base, a group of readers who are engaged and who aren’t going anywhere
I have been giving a lot of thought, lately, to my strategy for reviving my author blog now that I will have a little time for my writing again. I’ve also been analyzing other authors’ blogging endeavors and noticing what pulls me in as a reader.
I don’t consider myself a book marketing genius or a blogging guru, so I’m pretty much sharing my game-plan for my own author blog.
To make sure my blog functions as a landing page, I’ll basically make sure my “Books” page (and my “Projects” page for WIPs) is updated with covers, descriptions, and buy links. I’ll also make sure my social media and contact links are super easy to find and working properly.
Now, about using the blog to engage readers…
1. To engage my readers, I will make a posting plan.
For too long, I’ve blogged by the seat of my pants. But the more I read about blogging and platform-building for any purpose, the more I hear that consistency is a MUST. That, aside from non-crummy content, it’s kind of the key.
Even if it means I can only post once a week. Whatever I can handle with consistency.
Something I’ve run across that I really like is when posting more than once a week, some blog authors set a specific theme for each posting day. For example, I could make Mondays be book review day, Wednesdays be general posts, and Fridays be… something else related to my brand/platform as an author. (In my case, probably something to do with cats and mysteries.)
Whatever my plan ends up being, just having one is the first step toward making author blog actually work. The second step is keeping to that plan with consistency (which often means writing posts ahead of time and scheduling them to post at the right time!).
2. To engage my readers, I will brainstorm ideas that appeal to readers.
I see this the phenomenon with all kinds of writers. They blog (and let’s be honest, fill their Facebook page with) a lot of how-to-write content. I get it. I really, really do.
We want to blog about what we do. We want to share the exciting new writing concept that just clicked. We want to explain stuff to writers newer to the trade. We want to encourage.
Unfortunately, unless your books are non-fiction geared toward writers… you won’t actually be engaging your readers. Well, probably some of them will appreciate it because many times readers are writers and writers tend to be readers of their fellow writers.
(Does that make any sense? I’m hoping so.)
If you’re going to write about the act of writing and still have a blog that works to engage your readers, I have two suggestions for you:
1) Write about your writing in a way that is for the reader. Rather than getting all instructional, tell them about your writing process as it pertains to your books they’ve read and love. Make it more like pulling back the curtain and letting them in on the secrets that go into creating your books.
2) Dedicate one day in your posting schedule for writing about how to write. This gives you an outlet to be more instructional and encouraging to any writers or wannabes among your audience, but keeps the main focus of your blog on your fiction-consuming fan-base.
The rest of your blogging time should be filled with posting things that readers of books, consumers of books, bookworms who love YOUR books—will enjoy. This shouldn’t be too hard if you sit down and think like a reader yourself.
Blog like a reader and like a writer. What do I mean by that?
Identify with them as readers by reviewing and recommending books, singing the praises of libraries, marveling that you get to add to the reading material out there.
Share with them as a writer by sharing about your work in progress, about something funny that happened while writing your first book, something you’ve had to research along the way (unless you’re writing a murder mystery… probably don’t need to share some of that research!).
And if you’d like more help with brainstorming, you’ll love the freebie I share at the end of this post!
3. To engage my readers, I will be genuine, friendly, and use the same writing “voice” as in my books.
My mystery series is narrated by the main character: a cat. She has this super fun, snarky voice that’s a blast to write. I’m planning to be just as fun (though hopefully a little less snarky) on my blog. I want the blog content my readers and potential readers read to give them a taste for my writing “voice” and hopefully convince them they want to stick around for more—both on the blog and in my next book.
The exact voice you use will be different than mine, especially if you write non-fiction (if you do, you’ll probably want to sound a little more authoritative than chatty and snarky!). But do think of your blog’s “voice” as something of an introduction to your style for new and potential readers, and as a fix for faithful readers waiting for your next book release.
Above all, be real. Talk to your readers. Ask questions. Engage in discussion in the comments.
You’re making friends here (find AMAZING and much more expert advice on that in Sandra Barela’s post).
Now, I mentioned a freebie.
It’s a PDF called A Baker’s Dozen Blog Post Ideas to Reach Readers.
You can use the ideas/titles as-is, tweak them to fit your needs, or use them as as brainstorm jumping-off point.
Subscribe now and get the PDF!
(If you’re already a subscriber, check our latest newsletter for the Freebies page access password.)